FES gadget?

Its been all go this week. OH, OT, physio, eye clinic appointment and ms nurse next week too! Not that I’m complaining. It’s a bit like waiting for a bus none for ages then they all come along together : ) At my neuro physio appointment he was going to look into referring me for assessment for a FES machine as I am dragging my foot at bit, it gets worse when I get tired. Not heard of them before. He explained how it worked and I know finding funding is tricky. I may not qualify anyway, he is only arranging to refer me for an assessment at this point. Just wondered if anyone can share their experience of using one? How helpful do you find it? Hopefully someone can help. Thank you Mish x

l have been waiting since April for an appointment for assessment for a fes. lt is a WalkAide Fes that l would like to try - they are wireless. But l don’t think l will get ‘funding’ for it. As it has been such a long wait - l think l might as well try for one privately. At least - you get to try it before you commit to purchase. l had a FES - some years ago - which l bought privately - it did help with foot-drop - but l found the wires/stickypads such a fad.

l use a SAFO -which is a silicone ankle foot orthotic - which l have used for about 6yrs. lt does help - but l do think the WalkAide will be better - thats why l want to try it. My drop foot trips me up and causes me to fall and l now no longer bounce as l did years ago.

Recently, l tried a neoprene/velcro foot brace - the hospital gave it to me. But it does not help much - and the ‘toe-off’ splint type - hold the leg so rigid l find l fall ‘over’ my knee. And it does not do the muscles any good being kept rigid all the time. With a FES - the muscles are being worked all the time you have it on - so it does improve your mobility.

Hi Mish,

I use an FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) device to help with my drop-foot, and therefore walking.

Have used a device for nearly 2 years now after trying a manual “foot-up” brace when the walking was first quite bad (…does that make any sense?)

There was an issue with funding earlier this year which meant my latest check-up was postponed & postponed & postponed!!

For our area at least (Mid Sussex), funding has just been approved - but I’d be inclined to think each area would have to have their funding approved before this service could be offered. It smacks of yet another service that varies from location to location …I thought NHS stood for National Health Service - whereas we seem to have a regional health service

(Sorry, Mish, went off on one there!!!)

Anyway, I’d very much recommend FES as being a big, big help …as long as your Neuro believes you’d benefit from it ? It’s only suitable for walking, doesn’t help with driving or motorcycling

You’d then need to be assessed by an FES support team to see if the device would benefit you, and you’d be shown how to set it up, adjust it, where to put electrodes etc.

Best of luck with however you choose to proceed,


Hi Mish, FES is the best thing i have to help me, I can barely manage without it, I can’t walk very far with it either but it makes what walking I do do a whole lot easier. At least with my FES I can get about the house and my work with my push along walker and I wouldn’t manage this without FES. I’ve had it for about ten years now but I had to fund it myself. I’m in Scotland. Good luck if you go for it. Cheryl:-)

Hi Mish

I use a FES and find it really helps with my walking. I got mine via the local MS therapy centre not the hospital. I was assessed by the physio at the Therapy Centre and then give a FES to try for 2 months. The physio then applied on my behalf to the PCT (now CCG I think) and it was approved. She thought the fact I am still working helped the application. The FES is NICE approved so it is worth persevering to get funding. The MS Society have produced a booklet on how to get funding which you can download or order from the publications page on this website. Good luck and do let us know how you get on.


Hi, I posted before re my fes unit. It has 3 wires, one is a foot switch which switches the voltage off when my foot is on the ground and on again as I lift it. As for the other two, one pad goes slightly to left of left leg shin bone and other to left side of knee bone. Once set up it appears weaker as I walk, but if switched off I notice the difference. In the summer it appears a bit bulky whilest hooked onto my belt, but just get on with it. I’m getting more comments about my limp from people I know, but didn’t know I had MS.


The FES doesn’t work for everyone, it wasn’t for me, but I know quite a few people for whom it has made a big differnece.

You have nothing to lose by trying it.

Good Luck


Hi thank you for all your replies. Ah, I am used to waiting, look me a year to get OT and neuro physio appointment despite my ms nurse chasing. Was a bit of a mix up with my address but it has now been sorted and they have been fab so far. Fingers crossed it won’t be another year! I don’t see my neuro only ms nurse who liaises with neuro. Physio was going to see if my gp could refer me…I think! I think I have had my head in sand a bit thinking I was doing ok, which I have been. However I have had to adapt a lot over past year. I can walk for two hours (with my stick) before I have to sit but I have been avoiding whole day outings. On a recent holiday I got caught out over doing it and the next day we had to had to hire a wheelchair so I could go out with my family…first time I had to give in, so a few tears then a woo hoo when I realised how much it helped me. So now I am happy to accept any help, if it comes my way, to help me keep walking. It sounds like you have all found it really helpful. It is a shame so many of services that are out there come down to a post code lottery. I agree NHS should be NHS. Ah…Functional…I couldn’t remember I thought it could have been Foot ES! Lol Thank you for that : ) Foot brace sounds a bit stiff. How do they compare? I am waiting for a brace for my arm to wear at night to try and straighten it. I shall look up publication, that could be helpful. Sounds a bit like a tens machine with electrical pulses. I guess I may find out if I get referred. Anyway thanks again for all your information, will let you know how things go. : ) Mish x

Yep, Mish, FES device is very similar to a TENS machine!!


Mish, With foot drop - the message from your brain is not reaching the ankle to tell it to pick up. lf you get a physio or sports injury therapist to massage that leg - and really bend up the knee and press just below it very strongly [where the sticky pad for the fes is placed] your foot should come up. lts a weird feeling seeing your foot do something that you cannot make it do. l have forgotten what the nerve is called that goes from under the knee to the ankle - someone will come up with it. l have tried it with an old Slimtone machine - putting the pads under and right of the knee - switching it on and seeing your foot/ankle spring into action.

l will get the machine out - dust it off - and have another go. l do have a power-plate machine - which has been a boon to keep muscles working - but l have stopped using it since my hip-op - as l do have a long steel object now in my leg - but this is on the opposite leg to my ms foot drop. l have visions of the vibrations loosening it. Perhaps l am being silly - but it is only 14 weeks post op.

Have you a local college near you - that has a Sports Therapy class - as they do look for ‘guinea pigs’ to be practised on. They are well supervised and you will get the best of treatment. They start again in September - they also do aromatherapy massage treatments. Students need to have had a certain amount of ‘cases’ under supervision to qualify.

FES? Simple.
Without two sticks and an FES I would be in a wheelchair.


Thank you everyone. Not having heard of a FES machine before, all your replies have been really helpful. I hadn’t realised until I saw physio that my right leg had got weak. It’s my left leg and knee that give strange sensations! I guess you just get on with things and adapt. At least I have some exercises to do now which hopefully will help things like strength and balance etc. Back to the waiting game I guess. Spacejacket hope your recovery is going well? Mish x